Having recently completed this trip and having found conflicting info on-line, I thought I’d blog the correct information here on How to get from Nanning to Hanoi by bus and some tips etc.
Go by bus, you can go by train overnight, but expect to be woken at the border in the middle of the night.
The Chinese coach is nice, but without a toilet, the bus will stop twice for a toilet break and once for the border, one of the toilet breaks includes a 20 minute meal break, but just take snacks and wait till you get to Hanoi to eat.
The bus costs 168 Yuan and leaves at 8:30, 9:00, 9:30 and around 12:30.
The bus leaves from the Langdong Bus Station Ticket Office on You’ai rd (or Lu as the roads seem to be called), all the street signs have the names in English so you can relax.
I recommend the 9:30 bus as I’m not a morning person, and the 12:30 will arrive late in the evening. The 9:30 bus will arrive around 7pm, the trip isn’t as long as it sounds, a good one to two hours is spent at the border.
You’ll have to arrive an hour early to buy your tickets. If you have time the day before, why not buy your tickets then?
Once you’ve crossed the border on foot (this is a requirement) and spent 10 minutes at Chinese customs, it’ll take you about 30 minutes to an hour to get through the slow Vietnam border control, then you’ll wait anywhere up to an hour for a bus.
The bus goes to 3 separate locations in Hanoi, you’ll most likely want to arrive near the old quarter, tell the bus driver at the Vietnam border “Hong Ha” or better still have it written on a piece of paper, Vietnamese uses a derivative of the Latin alphabet, he’ll understand the name.
The bus stop is a 2km walk or a taxi ride, you’ll most likely get ripped off a few $s, these taxi drivers are expecting new arrivals with no clue, if you’re travelling lite and on a budget or enjoy some exercise after sitting for so long, you can walk to the old quarter, but a taxi is easiest, depending on your negotiating skills it should be no more than 90,000 dong at the upper price range, however the taxi will try you for 200,000+ dong, by the meter it should be about 60,000.
The bus trip was great fun, we got to the bus station in Nanning to find that there was 10 other people from our hostel catching the same bus.
You’ll be given a small bottle of water and some sweet bread, but it’s a long day and Vietnam can be hot, so take plenty of snacks and water.